This open letter was co-signed by the ICLMG
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you today to urge you to launch a Commission of Inquiry into Canada’s policies and practices relating to the transfer of hundreds of detainees to Afghan authorities during Canada’s military mission in that country.
There is overwhelming evidence that, during this mission, many of the detainees transferred – notwithstanding very clear and credible risks of torture – were indeed tortured. Canadian diplomats documented incidents where detainees were beaten with electric cables, rubber hoses or sticks; given electric shocks; forced to stand for long periods of time with their hands raised above their heads; punched or slapped; and threatened with execution or sexual assault. No one knows exactly how many detainees who were in Canadian custody were tortured, disappeared or died under Afghan custody – partly due to the lack of a rigorous monitoring regime for the conditions of detainees, and partly due to the cloud of secrecy the previous government relentlessly maintained over this matter. By exposing hundreds of Afghans to such high risks of torture, Canada failed utterly to prevent the torture of many of them, thus flouting one of the most basic legal and moral obligations: the prohibition of torture, enshrined in customary international law, international human rights treaties, international humanitarian law and Canada’s own Criminal Code.
Read more and see the signatories
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Ottawa – The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) welcomes the news of the release of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi by a United Arab Emirate court. After spending almost 22 months in prison suffering from solitary confinement, torture and numerous health issues, Salim Alaradi can be finally reunited with his family.
“The release of Salim Alaradi is an excellent news to his family and to all his friends and supporters who campaigned tirelessly to obtain it. Since the beginning of this horrible ordeal, ICLMG along with other civil liberties groups called upon the Canadian government to ensure that the rights of Canadian citizen Salim Alaradi are protected, mainly his right to due process,” said Monia Mazigh, National coordinator of ICLMG.
Recently, 30 Canadian and international lawyers wrote to the Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan calling for the release of Salim Alaradi and the American nationals co-accused in his trial, Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat.
“The public and private pressures that have been exerted at different levels and from different governments on the Emirati government is evidence that pressure has clearly worked and that keeping quiet is not an option. The Canadian government should use all sorts of pressures in its power to obtain the release of Canadians detained abroad for political motives,” insisted Monia Mazigh.
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By Monia Mazigh – “Bombshell”, “denounce”, “yikes”. These are some of the words used by some journalists or commentators to describe the recent news that some “rogue” elements of the RCMP, without any judicial warrant, put two journalists under physical surveillance over a certain period of time to probe a leak done by a CSIS agent to two Canadian journalists working at La Presse.
In our analysis of this news story, three main points should be made clear here:
- Press freedom and freedom of expression are strong pillars of our democracy but reporting stories from anonymous sources is also an extremely “dangerous” business. It can bring truth to the public eyes as it can also damage the reputation of people if it turns out to be a lie or a half-truth fabricated by the intelligence officers. Journalists are supposed to do their work in accordance with some ethical standards. Unfortunately, it has not been the case. The desire of publishing a “scoop” or some exclusive material has trumped several times over the damage done to the life of the person subject of the leak. Juliet O’Neil did it in the past, as Maher Arar knows painfully well. Except for the courageous former Globe and Mail reporter, Jeff Sallot, no journalist has done his/her mea culpa. Ethics is an increasingly rare commodity in the journalistic world.
- There is an ongoing competition between law enforcement and information-gathering authorities that pre-dated even the creation of CSIS. This competition or “foot stepping game” can bring similar cases where the police forces are investigation what the intelligence services are doing. What should be emphasized and remembered here is that Bill C-51 granted additional powers to CSIS that would allow them to step into the law enforcement territory. CSIS recently acknowledged that they used these new powers and that they will continue using them. Does this mean we should expect more spying activities from one agency on the other and more collateral damages in between?
- The article reported that these are “rogue” elements within RCMP who conducted such warrantless surveillance. Once again, the simplistic explanation seems to prevail when we pinpoint to controversial activities conducted by law enforcement or intelligence forces. How about CRA information of Canadian citizens obtained by CSIS without warrants? Rogue elements did it and they stopped afterward… How about information about Canadian citizens shared with foreign agencies that led to the torture and arrest of the former? “Bad apples” among the forces did it but we will be more careful next time… This has been going on forever. I am almost tempted to say it is the rule rather than the exception!
The moral of the story isn’t solely about the importance of freedom of expression, but also about the importance and the urgent need to implement oversight and review mechanisms so that our national security agencies will be held accountable, and no leaks will be made to destroy people’s lives, and no journalists will be spied on and put under surveillance.